Soc 216 section 1, Fall 2002



Study questions for Midterm Exam


This study guide includes all previous study questions – everything from the first half of the semester.  I am providing the following as a supplemental guideline to help you digest the readings and draw out some of their main points.  In many cases there are multiple “right” answers.  If you’ve been keeping up with the reading and attending class, this should not be overwhelming.  Please email me w/ questions, and/or bring questions to class on Monday (after you’ve gone through the reading).  A hint: In your studying, go beyond label recognition – be sure you understand the concepts enough to explain them in your own words.


Week 1

Introduction, Social Construction of Difference (pp. 1-10)

What is meant by the social construction of gender, race and class?

Omi & Winant, “Racial Formations”

What are the biological and social understandings of race, and how do they differ?  How do the authors define race, racial formation, racialization.? What are the roles of the state, economics and politics in “racial projects?”

Silko, “The Border Patrol State”

Jones “From Mother to Suspect”

How do Silko’s and Jones’ stories fit (or not) w/ Omi & Winant’s framework? Find examples from these readings or your own experience that either support or refute that framework.

Hubbard “Rethinking…” and “Social Construction…”

Messner “Ah, Ya Throw…”

Bounds “A Teenager’s Play…”

How does Hubbard conceptualize gender and sexuality?  How do Messner’s and Bounds’ stories fit (or not) w/ her conceptions?


Week 2

Miller “Domination & Subordination”

According to Miller, what are temporary and permanent inequality?  What is the role of ascription?  What is meant by “subordinates often know more about the dominants than they do about themselves” (91)?

“Understanding Racism” pp. 95-99

What are systems of advantage (definition and examples)?  How do they function?

Tatum “Defining Racism”

What are Tatum’s definitions of internalized oppression, responsibility, prejudice, racism? Why does Tatum prefer Wellman’s definition of racism?

Carter “Tracking”

How would you used Tatum’s terms, or others, to describe Carter’s experience ?


White Privelege Part I, plus McIntosh “…The Invisible Knapsack”

Dyer: “As long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm.  Other people are raced, we are just people… For those in power in the West, as long as whiteness is felt to be the human condition, then it alone both defines normality and fully inhabits it” (10, 12).  What does this mean?  What does Dyer want to do about it?  Do you agree with his argument and/or his agenda for change?  Why/why not? 


Dalton argues that white people tend not to think of themselves in racial terms.  What does he mean by this?  Do you agree?  Why/why not?


Dalton says “races exist only in relation to one another.”  What does this mean, and how does it differentiate race from ethnicity?


What does hooks say about the ways liberal universalism affects thinking about race and racism?


hooks writes: “In a white supremacist society, white people can ‘safely’ imagine that they are invisible to black people since the power they have historically asserted, and even now collectively assert, over black people accorded them the right to control the black gaze.”  What does it mean to have the right to control the black gaze? 


According to hooks, how has white supremacy affected black people’s perceptions of whiteness and of blackness?


McIntosh article (pp. 97-101): what does McIntosh mean by the terms “unearned assets/entitlement/advantage,” the “myth of meritocracy,” and “conferred dominance?”


McIntosh says “describing white privilege makes one newly accountable.”  What does she mean by this, and what would such accountability look like?  How does it differ from guilt and/or responsibility for (racial) wrongs of the past?


Week 3

White Privilege Part II

Using the articles by Barrett & Roediger, Brodkin, Foley and Lipsitz, identify several examples of how power relations and material conditions affected the construction of racial categories in U.S. history.  How did these conditions influence the construction of racial identities for African Americans, Asian Americans, white “ethnics,” Jews, and Mexican Americans, specifically?


Brodkin claims that “the biggest and best affirmative action program in the history of our nation” changed the racial identity of Jews in the U.S.  What was this program and who were its beneficiaries?  Would Lipsitz agree with her?  Do you?  Why/why not?


How does the black/white binary affect the construction of all of our racial identities?


According to Foley, how has the construction of Hispanic identity affected, and been affected by, relationships between Hispanic and African American communities?  What part has Anglo racism played?


Based on Lipsitz’s article, what is the “possessive investment in whiteness?”


Week 4

White Privilege Part III

Wildman & Davis: How does language veil the existence of privilege?  According to the authors, what is privilege and how is it sustained?  Why did Professor Schultz call Mr. Rodríguez “Mr. Martínez?”  Why is it important that earlier that day another professor had called him Mr. Hernández? 


Jensen and Wise discuss privileges they enjoy as white people.  Are their arguments persuasive?  Why  or why not? 


In Jensen’s article, what does Henry Louis Gates have to say about the proliferation of mediocre white professors in the university? 

What is Jensen’s point about merit vs privilege?  When you think about your important accomplishments, how do merit and privilege figure into them?


Wise uses the pronouns “we” and “our” frequently.  What are the implications of defining “we” the way he does?  How does it affect your reading of the piece?  He talks about “ending” and “revoking” privilege.  Is this goal desirable, or possible?


Hurtado, “The Color of Privilege”

Structural position.  What does the author say about white women and women of color?  Seduction vs rejection?  See memorable Lorde quote on p. 159.

Pryce “Black Latina”

How do dominant conceptions of race vs. ethnicity in the US create problems for Pryce? 

Arboleda “Race is a Four-Letter Word”

What is the author’s critique of the Time magazine cover?

Korematsu v US and Kochiyama “Then Came the War”

On what basis did Justice Black argue that there were “disloyal” citizens whose segregation was necessary (486-7)?

What was the number and date of the executive order discussed?  What did the order do?  Who was president?  How did racial/ethnic dynamics affect the health of Kochiyama’s father and other Japanese Americans?  How do you think Kochiyama’s experience relates to current (post-9/11) events in the US? 

Sethi “Smells Like Racism”

In what ways does Sethi want to broaden the use of the term “racism?”

Ragaza “I Don’t Count…”

How are Asian-Americans seen as “ideal poster faces for the affirmative-action backlash?” (210)  What’s Ragaza’s critique of the anti-affirmative action position?

Shah “Asian American?”

What’s problematic about the terms “Asian American” and “model minority?”

Guest Lecturer: Laura Fugikawa


Week 5

Hess et al “Racial and Ethnic Minorities”

What’s internal colonialism?  When did slavery formally end in the U.S.? What did Jim Crow laws do? (Also see websites in email)

Navarro “Latinos Gain Visibility”

What are the current demographic trends concerning Latinos in the U.S.?  Read pp. 365-6 closely, starting w/ “The phenomenon…”

Stout “3 Blacks Win…” 

What happened?  When did it happen? 

Dedman: “Study Discerns Disadvantage”

What were the main findings of the study discussed in this article?

Tilove “Racial Relations…” and Wood “What I Learned…”

How do you see the larger social context of the “dynamics of friction” depicted in these articles?

Tatum “Breaking the Silence” (WP pp. 115-120)

How do fear, anger and frustration affect discussions of race in the U.S.?

Video: The Color of Fear


Week 6


What’s the history of the racialization of indigenous people in the area now know as the U.S.?  What was the Dawes Act (pp. 430, 438)?  What were the arguments on both sides of the three-fifths compromise?  What are the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments of the US Constitution?  The Black Codes?  What’s the relationship between Plessy v Ferguson and Brown v Board of Ed?

Wright “The Ethics of Living Jim Crow”

Why didn’t women in the hotel care if Wright saw them naked?  How was Wright’s Jim Crow education different in Memphis than in Jackson?  What’s the “dual role that every Negro must play if he wants to eat and live” (28)?

“Maintaining Hierarchies” pp. 507-510

Chafe “Sex and Race”

What are Chafe’s four “circles of control,” and how do they play out w/ regard to race and gender?  What does he argue is the “most effective instrument” of social control?

Snyder “Self-Fulfilling Stereotypes”

How did Snyder set up his experiments?  What were his findings?

Guest: Niya Henry, w/ film Trapped in Images


Week 7

Marable, “Racism and Sexism”

What does Marable identify as the two “key concepts” of racism, and what does he mean by them?

What examples of institutional racism does he point to in the criminal justice system, narcotic drug use, and the educational system?  What examples of institutionalized sexim does he point to in economic, social, cultural and political institutions?  What’s the “wire that knots” these systems together?

Cofer, “The Myth of the Latin Woman”

In Cofer’s experience, how are Puerto Rican cultural customs misinterpreted in the U.S. and Europe?  What is the role of the media? On the day of her first public reading, why did Cofer remember the incident in the restaurant (p. 359) most clearly?

Mohanty, “On Being South Asian in N. America”

Mohanty’s essay addresses changing meanings of home, identity, geography and history.  How have these meanings changed for her and how do US racial dynamics affect these changes? What has led her to feel a “sense of home and community in relation to women of color in the U.S.?” (338)

Shaheen, “TV Arabs”

According to Shaheen, how is anti-Semitism at work in media portrayals of Arab people?

Purdy, “Where Laborers…”

What are the fears of Tony Hay and other anti-immigrant residents of Brewster?  What’s the opposing argument of George Sclavounos (232)?

Video: The Way Home


Week 8

Jordan, “Requiem for the Champ”

If Jordan believes Tyson to be guilty of rape, why does she not “rejoice in the jury’s finding?” (387)